“Summertime is a wonderful time for family and friends to get together and enjoy themselves, often with a beloved pet,” said Dr. Steven Hansen, senior vice president of ASPCA Animal Health Services. “However, even the healthiest pets can suffer from dehydration, heat stroke and sunburn if they’re overexposed to the heat.”
Here are just some of the ways animal lovers can help ensure their pets have a safe summer.
Visit the vet: Make sure your pet is up-to-date on all necessary vaccinations in spring or early summer. Pets should also be given a blood test for heartworm every year in the early spring. The deadly parasite is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito and it is recommended that dogs and cats be on a monthly preventive medication year-round.
Keep cool: Dogs and cats can become dehydrated quickly, so give your pets plenty of water when it is hot outdoors. Also make sure your pet has a shady place to escape the sun, and when the temperature is very high don’t let your dog linger on hot asphalt. Being so close to the ground, a dog’s body can heat up quickly and sensitive paw pads can burn.
Never leave animals in a parked car: On a hot day, even with the windows open, a parked automobile can become a furnace in no time and heatstroke can develop, which is potentially fatal.
Know the symptoms: The symptoms of overheating in pets include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, seizures and an elevated body temperature of more than 104 degrees. Animals with flat faces, such as pugs and Persian cats, and overweight animals are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively.
Just say no: Food and drink you serve your guests at backyard barbecues may be poisonous to pets. Keep alcoholic beverages away from pets, as they can cause intoxication, depression, comas or even death. Also avoid raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol.
Water safety is pet-friendly: Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool, as not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure pets wear flotation devices while on boats. Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from his fur and try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals that could cause stomach upset.
Beware of “high-rise syndrome”: During warmer months, there is an increase in injured animals as a result of “high-rise syndrome," which occurs when pets fall out of windows or doors and are seriously or fatally injured. Keep all unscreened windows or doors closed and make sure adjustable screens are tightly secured.
If your dog or cat accidentally ingests a potentially toxic substance this summer, it is important to contact your local veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 for immediate assistance. For more information on having a fun, safe summer with your pet, visit www.aspca.org.